The Commerce Journal

April 13, 2012

Learning from the Masters

Caleb Slinkard
The Commerce Journal

COMMERCE — I’ll start this column by saying I am by no means an avid golfer or golf fan. My grandfather was a good golfer, as was my uncle, who golfed for the University of Texas. I’m not sure how good my dad is, but he certainly knows his way around a golf course. I’ve never personally been to a golf course, or even a driving range, since it’s a) too expensive and b) none of my friends play it.

I’ve never really liked watching televised golf. I did go to the Byron Nelson Classic with my dad and brother once, and I remember really enjoying it. I was able to stand within an arm’s length of Tiger Woods, chat with a lot of pro golfers and even score a few autographs.

I’ve even been to St. Andrews, Scotland, to see the beautiful golf course there. It’s stunning and historic. But I’ve never consciously sat down to watch a golf tournament. My dad will watch the majors, including his favorite (the Masters), but whenever he turned on golf on Sunday afternoons, I promptly either fell asleep or left the room.

This past Sunday, however, I was trapped in the living room studying for a mid-term while waiting for Easter dinner.

Despite my reluctance to watch golf, I know a good bit about the sport. Names like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickleson are well-known by even non-sports fans, but I remember watching the likes of Greg Norman, Sergio Garcia, and even the late Payne Stewart. But before Sunday, I had never heard of eventual-champion Bubba Watson.

As I concentrated on my mid-term notes, my dad would interject comments on the tournament, contributing his own take on the events to supplement that of the commentators. An example:

- “If Mickleson wanted it more, he could have easily won twice as many majors.”

- “As much as I don’t like Tiger, you have to admire his competitiveness. When he steps on the golf course, anything less than a win is a disappointment.”

If there was a specific shot that my dad thought was impressive, he’d rewind so I could watch it with him. By the end, when Watson was dueling it out with the South African, Louis Oosthuizen, I was watching every shot. During the final playoff between Watson and Oosthuizen, when Watson hit an amazing shot out of the trees that landed right on the green, I was impressed by Watson’s ‘never say die’ attitude. Even more impressive was his humility after winning, his display of intense emotions, and his obvious love for his wife and adopted child, who were watching from home. My dad liked Watson, even before his victory, because of how hard he worked two years ago to win a major before his dad died of throat cancer. Though he wasn’t successful, I think Watson’s effort to make his father proud one last time before he died had a strong impact on my dad.

I’m just thankful that I could spend my Easter afternoon with my dad, and, while I haven’t done anything near as impressive as winning the Masters, I can sympathize with Watson because I want to make my dad proud too.